Overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), have increased by more than eight times since 1999. The death rates are rising; up 31% from 2019 to 2020. Overdoses, including those involving opioids, killed more than 105,400 people in 2022, and over 75% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.(CDC) Overdose deaths may be prevented by having the right items on hand and knowing what to do if you think someone has overdosed.
First, consider getting help if your drug use is due to an addiction. You can call the free, confidential Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at any time. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. You can also visit the SAMHSA online treatment locator , or send your zip code via text message to 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Message and data rates may apply. Reply HELP to reach an information specialist.
Second, make sure you let someone you trust know when you’re using drugs. You can plan to have them contact you at certain times to make sure you’re okay.
Third, if you are taking narcotics for medical conditions, make sure you follow the instructions exactly. Keep all medications in a safe place where they cannot be accessed without your knowledge and out of the reach of children.
Finally, keep an overdose kit nearby. This is important whether you are using drugs – including prescription opioids – or taking illegal narcotics. The kit should include Naloxone (Narcan®), a life-saving medication can reverse an overdose from opioids — including heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid medications — when given in time.
- Naloxone is easy to use and small to carry. Naloxone won’t harm someone if they’re overdosing on drugs other than opioids, so it’s always best to use it if you think someone is overdosing. Talk to a pharmacist or your healthcare provider to learn when and how to use Naloxone.
- Naloxone is available in all 50 states. If you have been prescribed high-dose opioids, talk to your doctor about co-prescribing naloxone. However, in most states, you can get naloxone at your local pharmacy without a prescription. You can also get naloxone from community-based naloxone programs and most syringe services programs.